A helicopter lands in a jungle glade and four wizards jump out. A vampire in aviator shades leans out of the chopper: “Oogle blurble barble ’Nam!” he says. The wizards, wearing helmets and flack jackets over their robes, nod to each other and charge off into the jungle. Magicka: Vietnam’s first moments set the scene nicely for the madness to come.
Magicka’s first expansion throws your pint sized combat-mages into a fantastical version of the Vietnam War, in which the Vietcong are replaced by gun-toting goblins, and the US forces by a team of one to four psychotic wizards. There’s a rescue mission and a survival arena to battle through, both of which ask the important question: what’s best, magic, or bullets?
It’s a trick question. The answer is napalm. As well as fresh enemies and soggy jungle environments, there are also new weapons, including machineguns and rocket launchers, but the real star of the show is the napalm air strike. Casting this ‘spell’ causes a US bomber jet to fly across the screen, leaving a streak of white-hot death in its wake.
Here’s why it’s great. To cast spells in Magicka, you summon elemental orbs, then combine them for use on yourself or your foes. Different combinations of orbs cast different spells. There’s no mana bar, or any restriction on the number of spells you can throw out. You can call in air strikes as fast as you can type.
Imagine, then, four wizards each calling in a bombing run every minute or so, throwing up protective shields and frantically healing between bombardments as an endless supply of goblins charge out of the jungle. These insane defences with friends on Magicka: Vietnam’s survival map are easily the best part of the expansion.
The rescue mission is more staid. You’re dropped into a jungle and instructed to save a number of prisoners of war. Side objectives ask you to destroy ammo dumps and topple radio towers, but these extra objectives never force you to veer too far from a narrow path. Armed goblins and the occasional ogre with a minigun try to stop you. Often by standing slightly off screen and shooting you, which is especially infuriating given how powerful the new guns are.
It takes about 40 minutes to play and is extremely difficult, especially if you’re trying to run it solo.
Play with friends, and it’s possible to overcome the difficulty spike and enjoy the game’s terrific sense of humour. The deliberately mangled speech and the constant war movie references are a recipe for good comedy. When combined with the new toys and the endless survival map, Magicka fans who play often with friends will be happy with the £3.49 price tag. If you were expecting to play through alone, however, you should give this one a miss.